The Bhishma-Gita consists of three Hymns—the Hymn to Mahadeva (Iswara), the Hymn to Mahavisnu and the Hymn to Narayana. The Hymn to Mahadeva is in sections 14 & 17; the Hymn to Mahavisnu is in section 149 of the Anusasana Parva, while the Hymn to Narayana is in sections 65 to 68 of the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharat.
Oh son of the river Ganga! Thou hast heard all the names of Maheswara, the Lord of the universe. Do thou tell us, oh grandsire, all the names that are applied unto Him
who is called Isa and Sambhu? Do thou tell us all those names that are applied unto Him who is called Vabhru (vast), Him that has the universe for His form, Him that is the
illustrious preceptor of all the deities and the asuras, that is called Swayambhu (self-created) and that is the cause of the origin and dissolution of the universe? Do thou tell
us also of the puissance of Mahadeva?
I am quite incompetent to recite of virtues of Mahadeva of the highest intelligence. He pervades all things in the universe, and yet is not seen anywhere. He is the creator of
the universal self. All the deities from Brahma downwards adore and worship Him. He transcends both Prakrti and Purusa. He is indestructible and the Supreme Brahman.
He is both existent and non-existent. Agitating both Prakrti and Purusa by means of His energy, He created the universal lord of creatures – Brahma. Who is there
competent to tell the virtues of that God of gods that is endued with supreme intelligence?
Only Narayana, that bearer of the discus and the mace can comprehend Mahadeva. He is without deterioration. He is the foremost of all beings in attributes. He is Visnu as
He pervades the universe. He is irresistible. He is possessed of supreme Energy. He is omniscient because of Yoga. It is in consequence of the devotion of the high-souled
Krisna to Mahadeva whom he gratified.
In every new Yuga has Krisna, by penances, gratified Mahadeva. Only Krisna has seen with his eyes the great puissance of the high-souled Mahadeva – that original cause
of the universe. Oh Bharata! I do not behold anyone superior to Mahadeva. To expound the names of that God of gods fully and without creating the desire of hearing more,
only Krisna is competent. Verily, only he is able to discourse on the puissance, in its entirety, of the Supreme Deity.
Addressing Vasudeva, Bhishma continued.
Thou art the Master of all the deities and the asuras. Thou art illustrious. Thou art Visnu in consequence of thy pervading the universe. It behoveth thee to discourse on these
subjects connected with Siva of universal form about which Yudhishthira has asked me. In days of yore, the Rishi Tandin, sprung from Brahma, recited in Brahma’s region
and before Brahma himself the thousand names of Mahadeva. Do thou recite those names before this conclave of the ascetics? Do thou discourse on the high blessedness
of Him who is immutable, ever blissful, Hotri, universal Protector and Creator of the universe?
All the deities are incompetent to understand the course of Mahadeva’s acts truly and in all their details. He is the end which all righteous people attain. The very Adityas
who are endued with subtle sight are unable to behold His abode. How can one that is merely a man comprehend Sambhu whom the senses cannot comprehend, for
Sambhu dwells in the firmament of the heart and cannot be seen, but by the internal vision that yoga supplies. I shall, therefore, truly recite to you some of the attributes of
that illustrious slayer of asuras who is regarded as the lord of all sacrifices and vows.
This hymn (stated to have been composed by the Rishi Tandin) relates to Him who is the Veda of the Vedas, and the most ancient of all ancient objects; to Him who is the
energy of all energies, and the penance of all penances; to Him who is the most tranquil of all creatures endued with tranquility, and who is the splendour of all splendours;
to Him who is looked upon as the most restrained of all creatures that are restrained, and Him who is the intelligence of all creatures endued with intelligence; to Him who is
looked upon as the deity of all deities, and the Rishi of all Rishis; to Him who is regarded as the sacrifice of all sacrifices and the most auspicious of all things fraught with
auspiciousness; to Him who is the Rudra of all Rudras and the effulgence of all things endued with effulgence; to Him who is the Yogi of all yogis, and the cause of all
causes; to Him from whom all the worlds start into existence, and unto whom all the worlds return when they cease to exist; to Him who is the Soul of all existent creatures,
and who is called Hara of immeasurable energy. Hear me recite those thousand names of the great Sarva. Hearing those names, Oh foremost of all men, thou shalt be
crowned with fruition in respect of all thy wishes.
Thou art Immobile,
Thou art Fixed,
Thou art Puissant,
Thou art Terrible,
Thou art Foremost,
Thou art boon-giving,
Thou art Superior,
Thou art the Soul of all creatures,
Thou art celebrated over all creatures,
Thou art all things,
Thou art the Creator of all,
Thou art Bhava,
Bhava implies that form from which all things flow and into which all things merge when the universal dissolution takes place. It may also imply mere existence without reference to any attribute by which it is capable of being described or comprehended.